This year, Christmas was a leetle different for us. For the 2nd time ever, I did not make it home for Christmas(the first being I was great with child and hypertensive and the OB said "No, you cannot travel 350 miles to spend Christmas with your family in Alabama." Worst. Christmas. Ever. Bleh). This year, my parents came here. We had a great time, but honestly, I'd rather be "home" for Christmas.
Besides that minute detail, this Christmas was the most fun I can remember (of my married life). Maybe because the kids are all getting old enough to really participate and get excited. We did not wrap any presents, or at least put them under the tree, until a couple of days before Christmas. I only had to re-wrap one gift (Miss Emma's doing), so all in all, they resisted temptation pretty well. When the gifts started piling up, the stars in their eyes begin to light. And not for the reason you would think children would light up at the sight of gifts. No, this year, they were more excited about the giving part.
We have a wonderful neighbor who has adopted our kids as surrogate grandchildren (or maybe they adopted her). She came to me about mid-November and asked me if she could take each child to town with her, one at a time, to do something special for Christmas. She explained that when her grandchildren were little, she would take them to the Dollar Tree, one at a time, and let them pick out a gift for every member of their family. With no interference or direction about what to buy, she just let them choose on their own. Oh boy. I knew right away this was going to be interesting. And it WAS.
It was the highlight of every family gathering. My husband's grandparents, his Dad & step-mom, his Mom and my parents were all recipients of some quirky, and some downright hilarious gifts:
*My Dad (who is a few hairs away from complete baldness)--a hairbrush (!!)--from Elijah
*Papaw Bobby -- a bobbing dashboard hoola girl :)--from Gracie
*Poppy--a crystal growing kit (What in the world?)--from Elijah
*Beamie--a pack of hand sanitizer and a water bottle
*John (Daddy)--an oversize Santa hat (from Grace)
I received an antebellum woman porcelain figurine from Elijah and a snow globe from Grace. How sweet is that? I was touched that they picked things of beauty and fascination (to them) for their Mom *tear*.
Miss Patsy (said neighbor) was tickled because Grace picked out this horrible dinosaur mask thing for Elijah, and when it was his turn to go shopping, what did he do but pick up that very mask and say he wished he had one! I'd say she knows her big brother pretty well.
Children have such a beautiful way of reminding us of the simple truths. I walked by my foyer table one day, and noticed my oh so precisely arranged nativity scene had been re-arranged a little.
Does this strike you as deeply as it did me? The face of every animal and every person was turned to gaze at the beautiful, brand-new baby Jesus. It looks as if they couldn't get close enough, couldn't get enough of the miracle of Him. Even the little sheep have their noses pointed to the manger where He lay. Little Miss Gracie, with her innocent child-play, stopped her Mama in her tracks that day and reminded me to forget about the list, the baking, and the decorating, and fix my eyes on Him.
Another moment of note happened on Christmas morning. Elijah, always the first to rise, had been dying to get up since 6:45, but I managed to keep him in bed until 7:15. He woke his sisters up, and they ran giggling down the hall, only to be stopped by their Dad. "Follow me", he told them, and then proceeded to lead them all over the house, single file, before finally leading them to the tree. The kids loved Daddy's "Christmas march", and I hope it's something they do until they are 20!
Mom with her re-upholstered purse I made her out of a skirt and a woven purse (more about that later).
Listening as my Dad read "Fancy Nancy" to the girls--french accent and all!
And last but certainly not least, Christmas dinner. Turkey, mashed potato, pea salad and cheesy olive bread with snickerdoodle cake and pecan pie for dessert. Our meal was simple but flavorful and filling, and I spent more time with my family and less time in the kitchen as a result :).
My centerpiece was compiled of live holly branches from our neighbors' tree, some feathers from Hobby Lobby and those twirly things I pulled off the tree. That'll do it!
As I recall these moments, I realize how blessed beyond measure I am. The words of the Psalmist ring truer every year--"He daily loadeth us with His benefits."